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I want to take up cycling but I'm sure how much I should take on with my first cycle. I don't want to be out of action for a week just because I tried to go too far on my first cycle.

So how far roughly should I try cycling on my first time out?

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Only far enough where you are sure you can get a ride home when your ass all of a sudden catches on fire. – DMoore Jul 30 '13 at 5:41
up vote 7 down vote accepted

It depends on your general fitness level, what kind of bike you have and where you are driving.

I stopped mountainbiking about 10 years ago and didn't do any other sports. When I started again 4 months ago a trip of 20km (12.4 miles), road only, took me a good hour and I was pretty exhausted. The first tour of 30km some days later really killed my legs. Now I can ride for 70 or 80km straight and even did a 130km trip with a break.

Start low, try out how much you can do. Try to push your limit further each time. On your first trip I'd recommend a short tour of 10km (6 miles) just to get used to riding your bike.

You might consider buying some cycling pants with an inlay, they really help reducing the pain in the …. I'd recommend a speedometer, too. It is nice to see how fast and far you have gone and how much time you needed.

If you are starting to get more serious about bicycling I'd recommend buying some clipless pedals and cleated shoes. They allow you to not only push but also pull your pedals.

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I suspect uncomfortable butt issues will get you first, before you ride far enough to do anything to your legs. (Intriguingly, I have been told it is actually the little hairs on your butt pulling and tearing as you sit that cause the discomfort. I always figured it was about building muscles there to sit on vs bones/fat).

However, absolute mileage is meaningless, since it would depend on your base that you start from. If you happen to be a 2:45 marathoner, then going out for your first ride probably will not be an issue.

I do not think you will hurt your legs enough to rack you up for a week, in almost anything you could do.

Try riding around the neighborhood, since the biggest issue will be getting your seat comfy on the seat.

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Yep, your butt will hurt first; your knuckles too, perhaps. – givanse Aug 24 '12 at 1:58

Basically, just ride. Don't tear after it, just get used to the bike and being on the saddle for a time. I would suggest that for the first few times, at least until you get used to the bike and how it feels, that you stay close to home and do loops around a park or something similar.

The last thing you want to do is decide "I'm going to go ride 20 miles", get 10 miles away from the house and find you can't ride any more.

As you get more and more used to the bike, the exercise, how everything feels, you can start going longer distances, picking up the pace, do things like that.

I would also strongly advise that you get a helmet, if you haven't already. Even for a 1 mile jaunt around the block, wear it. Anytime you are on the bike, helmet is on head. I've seen people fall over at a stop sign and crack their head open on the pole. IMO, bikes shouldn't be legal to sell without a helmet.

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+1 for the helmet. Totally natural for me to wear one so I always forget to mention it. – Baarn Aug 24 '12 at 14:28
My son is not allowed to pick his bike up from the wall without his helmet on. No helmet no bike. Its simple. – geoffc Aug 24 '12 at 15:33

We only bought our mountain bikes yesterday, we rode 8 miles and was fine this morning "BUT" may have pushed myself too far today by doing 20 miles and ive got a horrible feeling that my legs will refuse to get back on it tomorrow lol. My backside, my legs, my arms and my shoulders are aching like mad. So I defo think 20 miles is too far...

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